Several weeks, a psychosis had gripped Australia after hospitalisation in early September of a man who ingested a sewing needle concealed in a strawberry. More than 230 fruit trapped had subsequently been reported, sixty cases were found to be hoaxes. The court ordered Monday the detention of a farm girl, fearing in particular, it will be the object of reprisals. The police of the State of Queensland had announced the day before the arrest and indictment for seven cases of contamination, of the goods of this 50 year-old woman.

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My Ut Trinh held a position of supervisor in a firm which have been produced some of the strawberries implicated. His DNA was found in a bag of strawberries in Victoria. But the motivations of the suspect seem “difficult to understand”, explained before the court the prosecution. My Ut Trinh would have to believe that they acted with “malice” or “revenge” for the purpose of causing a financial loss to the owner of the strawberry farm Berrylicious where she worked. But the reason for his falling out with his employer is not clear.

Up to 10 years in prison

If convicted, My Ut Trinh risk up to ten years in prison. The government has recently extended to 15 years the maximum penalty which may be incurred by the authors to contamination of food. At the height of the crisis, the prime minister, Scott Morrison, had not hesitated to compare the sabotage of strawberries to terrorism. The governments of the several australian States had offered rewards to any person likely to provide information on the culprits. Politicians of all stripes had also urged their fellow citizens to support the producers in the country.

This case had forced supermarkets to remove the strawberries from their shelves and farmers to destroy large unsold inventories. Sixty-eight brands of strawberries were affected, including 49 for the single State of Queensland where this production represents about 160 million australian dollars. The strawberry growers association of Queensland has welcomed the arrest, while pointing to the extremely high number of cases of contamination still unresolved if My Ut Trinh has been involved for seven cases. “This is probably one of the surveys the most delicate in which I participated,” said his side the commissioner Jon Wacker. And, according to him, the investigations are still far from being completed.